Josh Sweat is much like the player he replaced at the Buck position - Dante Fowler. Both are a bit undersized for a defensive end, but Sweat obviously has a well-built, muscled-up frame with defined upper body, good chest development, tight waist and hips. While a move to linebacker could be a success for Sweat, based on his speed (4.53 in the 40-yard dash), he has minimal pass coverage skills and might be better served as an edge rusher in sub packages, reflecting on his 24.0 stops for loss the last two seasons.
Expected Draft Slot: Day 3
If he is to move to linebacker, Sweat proved at the NFL Scouting Combine that as he seems to have the range needed to give chase along the sidelines (4.28 in the 20-yard shuttle). Sweat has had good success coming off the edge, but he has also done nicely playing in-line. At 251 pounds, he might be at maximum growth potential (same measurements since early 2015), making him less likely to be a four-down type on a classic 4-3 line, but with that speed and lateral range, he has the athleticism to be a second level strong-side type - just lacking experience there.
Sweat has good lower body muscle definition to generate a strong base and a big bubble. He is a disruptive force in the backfield, thanks to his consistency and ability to explode past blockers when he stays low in his pads and comes off the snap with good urgency. He has good instincts and awareness to locate the ball and knows where the quarterback is. He flows to the ball well in backside pursuit and has the sustained speed to attack ball carriers along the perimeter.
Sweat reminds scouts of Fowler, as he has the same skills and balance as an edge rusher. He is slippery moving past lethargic offensive tackles playing off the perimeter. He also generates good “numbers” working in-line, as he flashes very quick hands and strong inside moves to get through the gaps and impact the pocket. He is good at anticipating the quarterback’s moves and excels when “dogging” inside.
Once he gets into the backfield, it appears as if he gets quicker, doing a nice job of flushing out and chasing down the quarterback. He flashes enough hand usage to shoot the inside gaps, and has a nice array of moves to get an outside shoulder on a pass blocker. With his ball anticipation and short area explosiveness on the blitz (12.5 tackles for loss and 15 chase-downs with six pressures in 2017) he has more than enough ability to flush and chase the quarterback down.
Sweat lacks fluid hip flexibility and sudden movement coming off the snap, and while he has valid strength, he does not show good knee bend or pad level when having to chase long distances, or when asked to drop back in pass coverage. He is quick enough to handle receivers on deep routes, but has never been tested there. In the second level, he needs to be more effective using his strong hands to reroute/jam tight ends, backs and slot receivers working underneath, but if an opponent gets behind him, he lacks the recovery quickness.
Sweat has very good stack and shed ability. He is strong with his hands, especially when working inside, using a powerful club move and arm-over action to get past blocks. He can be even better when he uses his natural leverage. When he plays high, he will get tied up a bit trying to disengage, but stays on his feet working near the pile. His size issue as a down lineman comes into play when he fails to protect his body working in trash, as he can be washed out of the play by double teams when he leaves his body too exposed.
Sweat can cover most tight ends and backs in the short area, but when he plays high, his change of direction stiffness shows. He is marginal in man coverage and tends to get up on his heels in his backpedal. In the short area, he can stay on the hip of the receiver, but needs to show a better burst to recover from gathering coming out of transition (more of a trailer type outside the box).
The Seminole does keep his head on a swivel while sinking, but during opportunities to do so, he only got adequate depth in his pass drops due to being on his heels and standing too high in his pedal. When he stays low in his pads during his pass drops, he can be an effective zone player. He is best when his drops are inside and in the short area. He has just adequate speed to cover ground when the pass is thrown, but lacks even decent range and he needs to be quicker in his reads and not so tight in his turn.
Compares To...Dante Fowler-Jacksonville Jaguars...Both earned their reputations in college by manning the Buck position. Both are well-built athletes with very long arms and big hands, but the big question is whether Sweat can from a stand-up position like he did from a two- or three-point stance. He has a decent spin move to counter when the high side of his pass rush stalls and demonstrates that he has the hip snap and to change direction in an instant.